Put it this way: If you're not watching a film outside swaddled in blankets, grilling the director in a post-show Q&A, or being regaled by actors, then quite frankly, you’re doing it wrong. (We kid, we joke — but seriously, you're missing out.)
From frighteningly immersive experiences — complete with contraband whisky and scratchy prison uniforms — to five-star hotels, we found 12 alternative film clubs guaranteed to enrich your cinematic experience. They are most definitely not what you'd expect, or where you'd expect — and that’s just the way we like it.
Roof Top Film Club
Whether it’s Netil House in London Fields, or the Kensington Roof Gardens, there’s no denying that Roof Top Cinema knows how to throw a party. The vibe is crowd-pleasing cult classics like Casablanca and When Harry Met Sally, and for £25 you get dinner freshly grilled on the BBQ, a glass of Champagne, blankets, and breath-taking views across the capital thrown into the bargain.
Visit Roof Top Film Club for more information
We love Real Gold’s Alibi bar on Kingsland High Street for its excellent DJs, left field music nights, and guaranteed good times, but did you know that the Dalston hangout is also a meeting place for cult-film fans? Every Monday, the venue is commandeered by Alibi Film Club, a free event where guests enjoy a classics and recent cult titles, like Dune and Scream.
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The Gothique Film Society
The place for true connoisseurs of the macabre, Gothique Film Society has been championing the artistic merits of horror films since 1967 — so you know you’re in terrifyingly safe hands. Obscure and rarely seen horror and fantasy films from the ‘30s to the ‘70s are on the menu and the crowd is devoted to their subject to the point of obsession (in the best possible sense). But our favourite fact about Gothique? Bob Monkhouse was once honorary president. Awesome doesn’t even cover it. Membership costs £17.50 per season, or £7 for a single show.
Visit Gothique Film Society for more information
The Electric Cinema
Possibly the ultimate date-night destination, Notting Hill’s Electric Cinema had a complete refit at the tail-end of last year and have installed double beds where the front row used to be. Couples are able to slip under cashmere throws with a glass of vino while they watch — or not — what's on the screen. Oh, and the foyer now hosts Electric Donuts, serving hot donuts and coffee.
Visit Electric Cinema for more information
Photo courtesy of Electric Cinema
Soho Hotel Film Club
This is a five-star dinner-and-movie experience. Eat at the Soho Hotel’s Refuel restaurant and then kick back in front of the blockbuster-tastic film of the week, in the super-plush and intimate surroundings of the hotel’s cinema, resplendent with cowhide seating. A three-course lunch, dinner, or afternoon tea along with the film costs £35 per person. Screenings start at 3.30 p.m.
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Okay, so it’s not the big secret that it once was, but there is no denying that these guys’ immersive cinema experiences are taken to a new level with every outing. Take Secret Cinema’s Shawshank Remdemption spectacular, which sees paying guests sentenced, carted off in 1930s buses, issued scratchy prison uniforms, and locked in cells, bullied by seasoned cons and sold contraband whisky by fellow inmates. Some might argue that this kind of attention to detail makes the film itself an optional extra, but we think Secret’s imaginative approach to cinema-going offers the ultimate immersion in a fictional world, which is, after all, the point of watching a film in the first place. Tickets cost £43.50, but believe us, it’s worth every penny.
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KinoKulture at the Horse Hospital
This well and truly offbeat arts venue in Bloomsbury has been providing a space for all things underground and avant garde since the early ‘90s. Its film club, KinoKulture, rarely disappoints when it comes to serving up rare, off-the-radar films. 2013 marks two decades of Horse Hospital’s DIY ethos and it’ll be presenting a series of spectacular exhibitions to celebrate this anniversary year. We’ll be catching next month’s Vive Le Punk events, including Horse Hospital’s punk-doc featuring Dame Viv and Malcolm McLaren in conversation. Prices range between £3 and £7 per event.
Visit The Horse Hospital for more information
If you’re after total film buffery, you'd better join the club. Close-Up is all about proper art-house cinema, and its programme includes special events and screenings of rare and unseen films, with filmmakers often on hand to discuss their work. Screenings are shown at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Oh, and Close-Up's HQ on Brick Lane boasts a spectacular library offering members unlimited access to over 17,000 films and books. Membership costs £10 a month, while screenings cost between £5 and £10 for non-members.
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Photo courtesy of the Soho Hotel
So you’ve watched a film or two. Big whoop. The question is: Have you eaten a film? No? Well read on. The people behind Edible Cinema want you to experience film in a whole new way: through aroma, texture and taste. Guests are given a tray of numbered mystery boxes containing a bite-sized tasting menu tailored to specific moments in the film. Each food parcel is numbered and this is displayed at the precise moment when you need get stuck in. The concept is a collaboration between Soho House, event organiser Polly Betton, experimental food designers Andrew Stellitano and David Bradley, and mixologist Sam Carter. Their next event will be two screenings of Some Like It Hot during Valentine’s weekend at the Aubin Cinema in Shoreditch. Tickets go on sale today — so jump to it!
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Kind of like an open mic night for filmmakers, you can’t get much fresher than this as a cinema-goer. There is no theme, no pre-selection and there are no restrictions, other than that films are under six minutes. Filmmakers turn up with their film on the night, introduce it personally then stick around to discuss their work with the audience.
Visit Kino London for more information
The starting point for sisters Emily and Harriet, the founders of Fashion Popcorn, was a shared love of fashion, film, cake, and an evening out in company of awesome people. We couldn’t agree more. FP’s events showcase awesome fashion film, new DJs and the aim is to make friends along the way and foster creative collaborations, courtesy of free drink and a post-show knees-up, probably somewhere in deepest Hackney.
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The Duke Mitchell
If you’re in the market for a proper geek-out, this monthly gathering at King’s Cross Social Club is the only way to go. Each of the Duke Mitchell productions has a theme – Ballet Madness, Christmas Crime, Time Travel, for instance, and with it unearths far-out and obscure cult classics. Organisers Alex and Evrim weave in imaginative shorts and music that link with the theme, with the evening compared by the Duke himself. We also love the awesome Trailer Trash, a compilation of B-movie trailers that are well and truly insane. Definitely worth a visit – and it’s free.
Visit The Duke Mitchell for more upcoming events
Photo courtesy of the Edible Cinema